Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Dangerous "Yes But I..." Disease (focusing on the feeling at hand)
Not to be confused with the dangerous "Yes But You disease..." (see earlier post)...here's how it often goes:
Woman: "I am feeling really lost. My mood is just so low."
Man: "Well, I'm really stressed lately. I feel awful too."
Woman: "This is not about you, I am talking about how I feel."
Man: " What about how I feel?"
Okay, so you can change woman to man, or child, or BBF. Doesn't matter really. And chances are we find ourselves on one side or the other anyway at different times. Its just painful, that's all, to tell someone how you are feeling and have them come back with how they are feeling. It creates distance at a time when closeness is what's wanted.
It makes sense, though. Often when someone tells us how they are feeling, we may think there is a subtle, or obvious, accusation that we are the cause of it. So we get defensive. Or we want to let them know we understand, so we put in our own feelings, or we want to make a connection, make a point or get some soothing for ourselves.
Perhaps we are afraid that we won't be able to help, or that we will say the wrong thing, or create a separation rather than a closeness. Then we will have to endure bad feelings, like helplessness, hopelessness, failure or annoyance. Its not easy to wade through these to the other side where connection and hope waits. Sometimes we may be afraid of the closeness that comes from walking through, so we turn things back to us in order to create a distance.
Our motives are not always conscious, of course, nor are they singular. And we do usually want to protect ourselves from hurt. It may be harder to respond with a "tell me more." Or an "of course I care, I did not know how distressed you were." Or even "Tell me what I can do. I'd like to make things right. Lets talk it out."
It can be our turn later, to get what we need, but sometimes sticking with the listening and the giving, staying with the feeling, however uncomfortable, and letting the conversation happen can pay dividends many times over.